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US Bans Kaspersky Software Amid National Security Concerns

Commerce Department cites alleged Russian threat in blocking new sales
June 21, 2024

In a decisive move, the US Commerce Department has banned the sale of Kaspersky's antivirus tools to new customers, citing national security concerns. This ban, effective July 20, restricts the Russian cybersecurity firm from acquiring new US-based customers, although existing users can receive software updates until September 29.

The ban follows extensive warnings from US intelligence agencies, suggesting that Moscow could exploit Kaspersky's software for espionage. “National security is increasingly about technology and data,” emphasized Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, highlighting the dual-use nature of such technologies.

Kaspersky’s presence in the US has long been scrutinized. Despite a thorough investigation exploring potential risk mitigations, the ongoing cyber threats from Russia prompted officials to opt for a full ban. This action marks the first use of the 2019 authority granted to the Commerce Department under former President Trump, which allows blocking IT transactions with entities linked to foreign adversaries.

This move is part of broader tensions between the US and Russia, exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine and Russia’s aggressive geopolitical actions. The ban could disrupt operations for American companies relying on Kaspersky’s software, as they need to transition to alternative cybersecurity solutions within three months.

Secretary Raimondo urged US customers to switch to other software immediately for their protection. The Commerce Department, alongside the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice, will support the transition through public awareness and assistance.

Kaspersky has denied being a national security risk and has a history of litigation to defend its operations. The firm’s response to the new ban remains to be seen, but legal challenges are anticipated.

The ban underscores a heightened vigilance in safeguarding national security against sophisticated cyber threats. As Raimondo stated, “Our adversaries are getting more sophisticated, and so must we.”

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